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A Journal on Physiopathology and Surgery of the Foot

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Chirurgia Del Piede 2004 June;28(2):59-70

language: Italian

The foot as an ''instrument'' in athletic actions

Pisani G.


The foot is the object most frequently engaged in sporting activity and is the instrument used in successive athletic actions. ''Object' because it is morphologically defined as an anatomic entity and ''instrument' because, as a structure interposed between man and environment, it is the site of those constraining reactions that trigger the closure of the kinetic chain of the lower extremity, so permitting the performance of the competitive act as a function of gravity and neuromotor integration. The mechanisms that intervene in the plane at right angles to the segmentary axes of the extremity (foot, leg, thigh) are decisive for the closure of the kinetic chain. Gravity is the motive force par excellence and the muscular factor is required in particular to modulate the relationship between potential energy, concentrated in the centre of gravity, and kinetic energy destabilising the centre of gravity. This explains the fact that little energy is taken up in walking. The foot, with its noteworthy proprioceptive representation and the greater extension, compared to the hand, of the sensitive cortical representation zone, is the most important man/environment interface with disto-proximal start of the segmentary biofeedbacks of the extremity that take part in the stabilisation of the extremity itself. Biofeedback perhaps mediated (neurofusal chain) by ''minimal' anatomical structures from the point of view of intrinsic motor validity; the poputeus, gracilis, knee articular, and fascia tensor muscles. And acting as mechanoceptors, as sensors or reciprocal spaciality of the articular heads, we should probably consider the intra-articular ligaments (hip, knee, subtalar) absent in the corresponding joints of the upper extremity where they would have been present if their function had been essentially one of antigravity stabilisation.

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